Going under cover

A look back at some of 2014's best Ramadan tents
Inside the Alchemia Majlis at Habtoor Grand
Inside the Alchemia Majlis at Habtoor Grand
The tent at St. Regis, Saadiyat Island
The tent at St. Regis, Saadiyat Island
De Boer at the Four Seasons
De Boer at the Four Seasons
Al Mumtaz tents at the Hilton, Abu Dhabi
Al Mumtaz tents at the Hilton, Abu Dhabi

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The Holy month of Ramadan sees an impressive array of temporary structures popping up all over the region for Iftars and Suhours. Sound & Stage takes a sneak peek into the creation of some of the Middle East’s best short-lived structures.

Alchemia Majlis, Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai
Constructed for the King of Jordan, the Alchemia Majlis at the Habtoor Grand provides a sprawling yet serene location for families to gather. Pooya Emami, operations director of Alchemy Project, tells us more about the impressive construction.

How long did the construction of the tent take and how many people were involved in the process?
It took 15 days for build-up and 40 staff. Three contractors were charged with construction of the tent, namely Al Baddad, Olivier, and Glow Productions.

What makes the design and features of this tent unique or notable?
This is the largest tent in the Middle East — it was constructed for the King of Jordan and has never been used until now for the Alchemia Majlis. It has a height clearance of 17.1m which is unique in its design. Other things that make the tent stand out include the interior design, the sheer magnitude of the tent in size and height, and also the fact that you will not feel the tent being smoky at any point.

When sourcing equipment/materials, what were the main priorities?
The priority, as always, was the exterior exoskeleton of the structure, then we focused on the floor levelling and then interior design.

Were there any special considerations you needed to make in terms of maintaining a balanced atmosphere?
Because of its height clearance, there was a challenge for the air conditioning of the tent as we did not want to put floor mounted air conditioning units inside the tent. This was because we wanted to make sure that the aesthetics of the tent are in line with each other. So we looked at — and utilised — the same structure used in Dubai International Airport and The Dubai Mall by using air jets instead, which gives a uniform blow of air to cool the place with no noise pollution.

Kit List
- Generators: 500 KVA & 250 KVA
- Cables: Rubber cable 6mm 5 core, RR cable 1.5mm 3 core & 2.5mm 3 core
- Fuel: Gas and Diesel
- Lighting: 2 x City Lights (exterior) LED washers inside for ambiance
- Air conditioning: 240 tons of packaged units
- Audio: 12 JBL speakers uniformly around the tent
- Specialised equipment: 1 Rotating platform, 2 x 20k Christie projectors

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Harlequin Marquees, St. Regis Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi
Freya Inston, senior account manager at Harlequin Marquees talks us through the design and construction of one of Abu Dhabi’s grandest Ramadan tents at The St. Regis, Saadiyat Island.

Tell us about the construction and design of this Ramadan tent.
The project required a three-week build period. The actual structure only took five days to build, but the large amount of interior fit-out required two weeks to complete. Around 20 people were involved with the installation. The brief for the structure was to provide ‘The best Ramadan tent in Abu Dhabi’, providing a high end finish in keeping with the hotel’s reputation, décor and aesthetics.

Were there any obstacles during the construction of the tent?
The main obstacle was trying to maximise usable space given the St. Regis’ large porte-cochère structure overhead and restricted footprint, while incorporating the existing features of the venue such as the 12 metre-long and two metre-wide water feature. Designing this was like piecing together a jigsaw, adjoining a number of different structures around existing pillars and walls. It is always a challenge building within a restricted space and this was one of the more challenging, both to design and build.

Were any of the fixtures and fittings made bespoke?
All structures used were stock structures, to maximise the budget available for the bespoke interior fit out. The majority of the interior architecture was custom, including two bespoke VIP Majilis areas, a central dining/seating feature and bespoke seating that was created around the existing water feature. Custom mashrabiya archways adjoin the different structures and lots of the furniture and décor elements were specifically chosen for the project, with custom-made upholstery in colours that reflect the hotel décor.

How is the venue lit and cooled? Were there any special considerations you needed to make when creating
the desired atmosphere?

We used a range of different lighting fixtures including an Arabic pendant light, bespoke hand cut Arabic wall lights, as well as general mood lighting. We included dimmer switches over the buffet areas so that the venue could be utilised for both Iftar and Suhour. The air conditioning indoor units were incorporated within the walls of the structure, to ensure that the detail of the wallpaper and feature walls remained the main focus. Exterior chiller units were kept away from the structure, in a back of house area, so that they could not be seen when entering the structure.

Kit List
- Generators – House power provided by St. Regis engineering department
- Cables – Over 150m of 35mm Cables
- Fuel – As house power was utilised, no additional fuel was provided
- Lighting – Main structure lighting and LED features
- Air conditioning units – 40 interior 6 ton AC units within the structure walls, 10 exterior chiller units
- Audio – Gearhouse provided 18 TV screens, audio equipment for the Oud player, and IT cabling for all service stations.

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De Boer International, The Four Seasons, Doha, Qatar
De Boer International has been responsible for an array of Ramadan tents across the Middle East. Business development director, Edward Gallagher, explains how the team managed to bring a touch of luxury living to their temporary venues, including the Four Seasons in Doha.

Talk us through the construction of this complex tent.
We deliver all of our structures ourselves — we have a specialist team of highly experienced European builders based in the region. It took three days to construct the building envelope, with a total team of 11 staff on site. We had to provide a design for the venue which maximised internal space, given the complex footprint in the hotel’s gardens.

This meant carefully inter-linked structures of varying types (we have a range of nearly 80 different types of tent), while maintaining a beautiful look to the connected structures. All of this had to be done while trying to create a venue which sat comfortably and in harmony with the stunning hotel gardens, and provided maximum glazed frontage to the stunning views across the Arabian Gulf — a major feature of the hotel.

Were there any major obstacles to overcome during the construction of this tent?
The landscape as well as the footprint certainly created challenges in achieving the aforementioned goal. We had to carefully remove (replant and replace afterwards) some small trees and substantial shrubbery. Also, if we were to maximise the useable footprint, the overall space had substantial height differences across it, meaning the structures had to be built up carefully to create a single level height. Furthermore, bespoke connections between the structures were created in order to provide a smooth, airtight and seamless flow from the main hotel into each area of the facility.

Are any of the tent’s fixtures and fittings specially designed?
The lead on this was the agency delivering the work on behalf of the client — they utilised a variety of bespoke features to create a great balance between the old and the new. They also, in their interior design, created a space which was simply converted from a successful FIFA World Cup 2014 viewing venue into a vibrant and busy Ramadan tent.

How did you adhere to the strict health and safety guidelines for the construction of Ramadan tents?
We work safely on some of the most complex construction and event sites worldwide — at the London 2012 Olympic Games, we built more than 50,000sqm of structures with more than 42,000 man hours worked with zero accidents or injuries.

We approached this project with no less rigour and priority towards health and safety with daily toolbox talks, full risk assessments and method statements in place and fully safety trained supervisors on site overseeing our activity.

Our products are all manufactured in Europe and so they comply with all safety, fire and other key legislation internationally and in Europe — as part of our project package we present all of that information for submission to the relevant authorities.

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Al Mumtaz Tents, The Hilton, Abu Dhabi
The team at Al Mumtaz Tents has been busy all across the region building a selection of temporary structures in Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Sales executive Makhdoom Ali talks us through the company’s approach to creating a successful Ramadan tent.

How long does the construction of your tents take and how many people are involved?
Usually it varies from project to project but, on average this year, around eight people were involved in the construction and it took four to five days for the installation of each tent.

What is the usual design of an Al Mumtaz Ramadan tent?
The structure is always an A-Type Tent with aluminium frame, topped with a PVC waterproof and flame retardant cover. Inside the tents have inner lining, AC units, carpet and lights, then further interior
details are added — like furniture and décor — on the client’s request.

When sourcing equipment/materials, what are your main priorities?
We don’t outsource the fittings or equipment — we are complete events solution and tent services company and carry almost all the requirements of our clients with us. If on rare occasions we do need to outsource, we make sure that everything is custom-made according to the exact requirements of the client and we do it with prior approval of the second party. This year, however, we have managed on our own.

How do you achieve the desired lighting and climate in your tents?
For Ramadan tents we use chandeliers to light up the whole area of the tent. The air conditioning depends upon the size of the tent. This year all our tents are huge so we have preferred 25 tons of AC in each tent. One 25 tons AC unit covers 200sqm of area.

Did you have any special requests this year?
Usually all our Ramadan tents are the same as others. But, this year, a few that are installed in Hotels like Al Murooj Rotana, Sheraton, and The Hilton differ from others, as they have also requested that their tents be facilitated for the transmission of FIFA World Cup. The tent at Murooj Rotana, for example, has transparent roof panels and a number of LCDs inside for the guests to dine and watch the football.

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